SGA students show their support for Ukraine.

An East Village renaissance: St. George Academy

NEW YORK – “This is not the SGA that I remember” seems to be the popular phrase lately for alumni who periodically pop in to their alma mater at 215 E. Sixth St. to visit with former teachers and reconnect with fond memories of their bygone teenage years. In fact, the many visitors who, in the last 18 months, have stepped through the large glass doors of St. George Academy (SGA) in New York City’s East Village have been pleasantly surprised by the changes to the school, not only in its appearance, but in its atmosphere. “I’ve noticed the school is more vibrant,” said alumna Klara Kurti, “and there is more student involvement that wasn’t present in previous years.”

The vibe of the school has indeed changed, thanks to its spirited and energetic new principal, Andrij Stasiw, an active member of the Ukrainian American community and resident of the East Village.

Students and teachers of the Self-Reliance School of Ukrainian Studies in New York City.

New York Ukrainian studies school pays respects to the great bard

NEW YORK – On Saturday, March 11, Self-Reliance School of Ukrainian Studies in New York City paid its respects to the great Ukrainian bard, Taras Shevchenko. The annual celebration began with Principal Ivan Makar addressing the students and guests with these words: “Taras Shevchenko was a Ukrainian genius. He was the light that guided Ukrainians during a period of enslavement by Moscow, a time when Ukrainians were serfs on their own land. Taras Shevchenko was a symbol of freedom during the Revolution of Dignity in 2013-2014. The bard was a guiding star for the Maidanivtsi [the people on the Maidan] when they fought with their lives for freedom for Ukraine.

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Toms River children honor Shevchenko

TOMS RIVER, N.J. – Children of St. Stephen Ukrainian Catholic Church perform a concert on March 19 in honor of Taras Shevchenko. Organizers of the event included the Rev. Volodymyr Popyk, choreographer Nadiya Lemega and Maria Ivanys, as well as song and poem recitation instruction by Lilia Zayceva. The show was capped off by the church choir’s performance, under the direction of George Shevchuk. Stan Jakubowycz of Brick, N.J., and his wife Halyna, who had attended the concert six years prior, said they were surprised by the increase in youth at the parish this year.

Participants after listening to a lecture on Akcja Wisła.

OOL and UAYA coordinate educational project on 70th anniversary of Akcja Wisla

PASSAIC, N.J. – The Organization for the Defense of Lemkivshchyna (OOL) and the Ukrainian American Youth Association (UAYA) have partnered to help educate people about the 1947 forced resettlement of the Ukrainian minority in Poland, codenamed Akcja Wisła. Mark Howansky, president of OOL, and Dianna Howansky Reilly, OOL national board member, led an informative presentation about Akcja Wisła at the Ukrainian Center in Passaic, N.J., on April 12 as part of the UAYA weekly meetings. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the forced relocation program. One of the goals of OOL is to obtain recognition and reparation from the current Polish government for this crime against Ukrainians. Another is to educate people about this tragic chapter in Ukrainian history.

Volunteers load a shipping container with humanitarian aid items destined for various regions of Ukraine.

UUARC sends first shipment of 2017 of humanitarian aid to Ukraine

PHILADELPHIA – The first container of humanitarian aid sent out this year by the United Ukrainian American relief Committee (UUARC) was loaded by volunteers in the Philadelphia area on March 24 and shipped to Kyiv. The container of aid included new physical therapy equipment – including a specialized treadmill, a recumbent stepper and continuous passive motion units, as well as electrotherapy units – valued at just over $100,000, which was made possible thanks to the generosity of the estate of Harry Malynowsky. This equipment is destined for three facilities in Kharkiv, Dnipro and Poltava in Mr. Malynowsky’s memory. Many Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have received very serious injuries and the hope is that this equipment will provide the aid necessary for their recovery. Also in the container are two new juggernaut electric bikes, which will allow for quicker and quieter medical aid to those in need; two new four-seater strollers with covers for regional specialized orphanages in Tulchyn and Khmelnytsky for special needs children from birth to age 7; 40 boxes of medical supplies, wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, portable toilets, baby diapers, adult disposable briefs, clothing, shoes and linens for those in need.

At the Charitable Ukraine competition’s awards ceremony in Kyiv,  representing the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America were Dr. Maria Furtak, UNWLA representative for social welfare in Ukraine, and Olena Vlasenko, president of the Zhytomyr branch of the Ukrainian Women’s League of Ukraine.

Charitable Ukraine honors UNWLA as best provider of ‘Aid from Abroad’

NEW YORK – The Ukrainian National Women’s League of America (UNWLA) was honored on March 29 by the Association of Charities of Ukraine with its top award in the category Aid from Abroad. The annual awards recognizing groups and individuals active in charitable endeavors have been held since 2012, although the Charitable Ukraine competition was founded in 2007. This year’s Charitable Ukraine competition had a record number of applicants – 744. It was divided into 15 main, three individual and four special categories, one of which was Aid from Abroad. The statuette presented to honorees is an angel decorated with folk designs and amber called the Angel of Goodness.

Children in Lviv with their gifts from St. Nicholas.

New Jersey Plast sorority sends gifts to Ukraine

WHIPPANY, N.J. – In the fall of 2016, the New Jersey branch of the Plast sorority “Ti, Shcho Hrebli Rvut,” planned a project to assist the children of Plast members who were injured or died in the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) in eastern Ukraine. The plan came to fruition in November when a 17-pound package containing winter hats, gloves and scarves, generously donated by the sorority members, was sent by air to Ukraine. Funds to defray the cost of shipping the package were collected from a “vechirka,” or dance, held by the “Hrebli” for the youth of the metropolitan area at the Ukrainian American Cultural Center in Whippany, N.J., on April 16, 2016. The package was delivered into the very capable hands of a sister sorority member in the city of Chernivtsi, Ukraine, Lesia Fedorenko. The plan was to locate the children of Plast members and give them these items of clothing just in time for the Feast of St.

Ivanka Zajac, president of the New York branch of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, and war correspondent Sergei Loiko.

UCCA’s New York city branch hosts war correspondent Sergei Loiko

NEW YORK – On Monday, March 13, the United Ukrainian American Organizations of New York, the New York City branch of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), hosted an evening discussion with Sergei Loiko, renowned journalist, war correspondent and author. Speaking to a packed audience, Mr. Loiko presented his novel “Airport,” a fictionalized account of the four days when he was imbedded with the Ukrainian “Cyborgs” during the 2014 Donetsk Airport siege. Mr. Loiko, who has been to 25 warzones, began his comments by stating that being in Donetsk was different than any other warzone he had been to because this war “is built on lies” spread by Russian television. Although his book is a fictionalized account, Loiko underscored that it is based on what he witnessed while spending four days with the Cyborgs, and that many of the book’s characters and plot lines were inspired by the people he met and events he personally experienced. In describing his book he noted that he needed a thread that would tie all his vignettes together, and since he himself is a journalist, he used a journalist as the character that connected the various events together.

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“Khrestonostsi” fraternity of Plast meets

JENKINTOWN, Pa. – The “Orden Khrestonostsiv” Plast fraternity held its meeting on March 18 in the Philadelphia area. Approximately 30 members from the United States and Canada attended the event, which was chaired by Alex Labunka, the leader, or “velykyi mayster,” of the young adult and senior units of the fraternity. Attendees received greetings from members in Canada and Ukraine, heard reports on activities of the units and individual members, discussed and planned further educational activities, heard a presentation on heraldry by Jurij Zajac and accepted several candidates into their fraternity. Attendees unanimously voted to continue their support of the Ukrainian Catholic University as well as to assist wounded soldiers from Ukraine.

The film’s producer with event sponsors and organizers (from left): Michael Koziupa, Jaroslava Mulyk, Christine Bonacorsa, producer Orest Sushko, Marika Tershakovec, Anya Tershakovec-Tomko and Zezya Tershakovec-Zawadiwsky.

Triumphant story of Ukrainian bandurists screened in Whippany

WHIPPANY, N.J. – Sunday, March 5, saw a full house at the screening of “Music of Survival” at the Ukrainian American Cultural Center of New Jersey in Whippany. The film is the triumphant story of the original 17 members of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus (UBC) who survived World War II as a musical ensemble. The film examines the roots of the unique musical tradition of the bandura and the harrowing journey of the chorus, and poignantly tells the story of how the musicians were used and abused by political regimes. The event, free to the public, was sponsored by Ukrainian National Women’s League of America Branch 86 and Selfreliance Ukrainian American Federal Credit Union. The audience of over 100 Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian attendees was visibly moved by the film, giving a rousing standing ovation to the film’s producer, Orest Sushko, who was in attendance from Toronto.